Millions of people suffer from reflux and heartburn. Some people suffer from it everyday. Millions of dollars in antacids, stomach pills and prescription drugs are spent – and earned – each year trying to prevent this awful disorder. But what exactly is acid reflux?
When you swallow, a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of the esophagus relaxes to allow food and liquid to enter into your stomach. Normally this muscle valve, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), is closed and keeps the digestive acid and food inside the stomach where it belongs.
However, if the LES valve opens when it shouldn’t, hydrochloric acid from the stomach can reflux back and touch the lining of the esophagus. This can cause a burning sensation in the chest or throat known as acid reflux or heartburn.
Most people experience the occasional episode of heartburn and although unpleasant, it is generally nothing to worry about. Frequent or constant heartburn however can be a serious problem and is the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
People generally use one of two treatments to combat acid reflux. Either they take a pill or they try to change their diet and see if this helps. Antacids are often used to decrease or neutralize the amount of acid in the stomach. They are most effective when taken about 1 hour after a meal but often many of them must be taken. Prescription medication such as H-2-receptor blockers or Proton pump inhibitors are used to reduce the production of stomach acid. They provide long-term relief compared to antacids but they don’t act as quickly.
These drugs however are associated with many side effects, one of which was reported in a recent issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. It was concluded that taking the class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for more than a year significantly increased the risk of hip breakage in people over 50. The risk was found to increase with increased dosage and the longer the drug was taken. The researchers believe that the PPI therapy may inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium which then leads to weaker bones and fractures.
The elimination of foods and other thinga that can increase the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and/or relax the LES muscle (and thereby aggravate the problem) such as nicotine, alcohol, chocolate, high fat meals, foods which contain high amounts of calcium and protein, and certain calming herbs like peppermint is also often helpful. Losing weight if you are overweight or obese can help since excess body weight puts extra pressure the stomach and surrounding muscles which can force open the LES valve. Eating smaller meals will reduce the pressure on the LES muscle as well.
There is a third approach though, which can be used in tandem with the dietary and nutritional adjustment method. There is a natural remedy for acid reflux and heartburn: an ACV Tonic. ACV stands for apple cider vinegar. I know, you think, “Vinegar?! For acid reflux?!” Yes, that’s what I said. Acid reflux is ironically often a problem because the stomach does not produce enough acid, not because it has produced too much. Vinegar seeks to balance this out. Some people also believe that improved digestion and mineral absorption from regular intake of the apple cider vinegar tonic may also play a role in reducing acid reflux. This is an old and very established natural remedy and it works well. In some cases, relief is instantaneous.
The AVC Tonic:
|2 or 3 teaspoons (10-15 ml) in an 8 ounce glass of water,
before meals or whenever heartburn is experienced.
Some people also swear by drinking this tonic every morning. ACV has many more health benefits than just calming acid reflux. If you find that you experience gastric problems after drinking the tonic, you can reduce the amount of ACV to 1 teaspoon. A teaspoon of honey can also be added to soothe the stomach. The body must try to re-adjust itself though and this can sometimes be uncomfortable at first. My husband did this treatment. After one day, his acid reflux was gone.
Severe and constant acid reflux or heartburn or heartburn that occurs suddenly, especially when starting a new medication should be evaluated by a physician. Good luck and good health to you all.
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